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Gradstravaganza: Graduate Student Welcome 2023

Friday, August 18: Success Sessions (online)
Saturday, August 26, 12-3pm: Picnic (Wilkins Plaza, Fairfax Campus)

All new and continuing Mason graduate students are invited to Gradstravaganza, Mason’s annual graduate student welcome event! Gradstravaganza is a two-day event: first, a fully virtual line-up of sessions on Friday, August 18, 9am-4pm to help kickstart your graduate student experience, followed by an in-person picnic to celebrate the end of the first week of classes on Saturday, August 26 on Wilkins Plaza! Brought to you by Graduate Student Life, the Graduate Division, the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA)Mason Recreation, Office of International Programs and Services, and University Life.

The Success Sessions on Friday, August 18 will feature workshops highlighting strategies for success, presentations to help prepare Graduate Assistants (GRAs, GTAs, and GPAs), and a student panel sharing their tips for optimizing your graduate school experience.

The Picnic on Saturday, August 26 will feature FREE food, t-shirts, games, crafts, giveaways, and plenty of activities to enjoy! You will also have opportunities to connect with academic units, campus resources, and graduate student organizations. Families are welcome!

Registration instructions for Success Sessions and the Picnic are below. Contact Graduate Student Life with questions at  

Gradstravaganza Success Sessions Agenda

Friday, August 18, 9am-4pm (Virtual Sessions)

Registration is required for all sessions. Please use the links provided to register for each individual session. 

9:00-9:50am Opening Session and Welcome with Dr. Laurence Bray 

Welcome to Gradstravaganza! Join us for an opening, engaging one-on-one with Dr. Laurence Bray, Senior Associate Provost for Graduate Education. Dr. Bray is going to share her insights in response to some commonly asked questions about what it is like to be a graduate student at Mason. She will provide suggestions for how to get the most out of your time in graduate school and share useful advice for avoiding common pitfalls.

Register here:

Sessions run concurrently and are grouped within their time block


Pathway through the PhD

Presenter: Dr. Julie Owen, Associate Professor of Leadership Studies in the School of Integrative Studies

Are you wondering what to expect during a doctoral program? Although specific requirements will vary by graduate program, this session will provide an overview of the key benchmarks of a doctoral program and will highlight available resources to help you make the most of your journey.

Register here:

Strategies for Success in Your Master's Degree Program

Presenter: Jill V. Deering, Senior Assistant Dean for Student and Academic Affairs at the Schar School of Policy and Government

Wondering what to expect during your master’s program? Whether you are a part- time or full-time student, come learn strategies to make the most of your master’s degree experience at Mason.

Register here:


Building an Effective Relationship with your Mentor/Advisor

Presenter: Dr. Stephanie Bluth, Associate Director of Graduate Career and Professional Development, The Graduate Division

Your faculty advisor or mentor is a key part of your success in your graduate program and your intended future career. Find out strategies for how to make the most of this important relationship.

Register here:

How to Get On-Campus Employment as a Graduate Student

Presenter: Kaylie Wray, On-Campus Employment Specialist, University Career Services

Finding an on-campus job can be both time-consuming and overwhelming. Join us for an informative session where University Career Services will be reviewing: 

  • Different types of on-campus employment opportunities and where to find them (Graduate Assistantships, Student Wage, ect.) 
  • Job application best practices (resumes, cover letters, interviewing) 
  • Handshake 
  • How to determine if you are a good fit for a position. 

 Whether you are seeking financial support, professional growth, or a chance to become more involved in the George Mason Community, this webinar will give you the knowledge to determine the next steps of your on-campus job search.

Register here:


Managing Time and Avoiding Procrastination

Presenter: Dr. Julie Stradling, Learning Specialist, Learning Services

As a graduate student, you are juggling multiple academic demands along with other priorities, including work, family, wellness, and more, all within a limited schedule. In this session, find out the top ten strategies for managing your time and avoiding procrastination to meet the demands of graduate student life.

Register here:

Writing Productivity: Making the Commitment to Writing

Presenter: Jenny Goransson, PhD Candidate in Writing and Rhetoric and Graduate Writing Coordinator in the Writing Center

Are you faced with large writing projects (such as a paper, thesis, or dissertation), but have trouble making progress? Join us to discuss frequent barriers to writing and strategies for overcoming them to achieve your writing goals.

Register here:


A2i: Accelerate to Industry Presentation for Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholars


Cecilia Barriga Bahamonde, Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Science and Policy, College of Science

Mariia Ivanchenko, Ph.D. Candidate in Chemistry, College of Science

A2i (Accelerate to Industry) is a bold, new approach to workforce training for graduate students, hosted by NC State with Mason as one of the partner institutions. Taking steps to prepare yourself for the job market or for the perfect internship starts on your first day of grad school. Come hear from two doctoral candidates about the steps they took to get connected. They will discuss experiences and activities they used to find mentors, build their resume and CVs, and get industry connections as they prepare for the job market. Come learn about this innovative program!

Register here:

Finding External Funding while in Graduate School

Presenter: Dr. Megan Bruening, Director of the Office of Fellowships

Funding is one of the greatest challenges graduate students face as they plan studies. This session will offer an overview of funding opportunities and support available to Mason grad students. The session will help graduate students learn how to identify funding opportunities from external sources, including government agencies, foundations, professional associations, and more. The session will also provide information on support and advising services available to students through the Office of Fellowships, which assists Mason students seeking external funding in support of research, training, or professional development opportunities.

Register here:

Resilience in Graduate School: Strategies to Support Your Thriving

Presenter: Alexander Harrison, LPC,  Coordinator of Clinical Services, Counseling and Psychological Services

Although balancing the demands of graduate school and your personal life can be challenging, there are effective, evidence-based strategies for strengthening resilience. This workshop will provide you with tangible skills that you can use to manage stress and thrive both in school and in your personal life.

Register here:

Lunch Break: 12:20-1:00pm

Graduate Student Panel


Learn from those living it!  Five current master’s and doctoral students will be sharing their best tips and strategies for thriving and surviving in graduate school. Don’t miss this great opportunity to get an inside view of the next stage of your graduate journey!

Register here:

2:15-4:00 PM

Building Professionalism through your Graduate Professional Assistantship

Co-Presenters: Amy Snyder, Director of Staff Experience, University Life

                         Meeghan Milette, Associate Director of Professional Development, University Life

This is a session designed for graduate students currently holding a Graduate Professional Assistantship, so that they may learn strategies for navigating their academics and their GPA position, professionalism in the workplace, professional communication, and leading meetings.

Register here:

Graduate Research Assistants as Researchers, Mentors, and Professionals

Presenter: Dr. Christopher DiTeresi, Director for Research Integrity.

This is a session designed for graduate students currently holding a Graduate Research Assistantship, so that they may learn strategies for navigating their GRA position and their academics.

Register here:

Starting Strong: Planning for the First Two Weeks as a GTA

Presenter: Dr. Crystal Anderson, Assistant Director for Teaching Excellence at the Stearns Center for Teaching & Learning, Affiliate Faculty in African and African American Studies and Art

Serving as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) is rich professional experience, but it can also be a daunting challenge. In this session, learn tips for engaging students and giving feedback online, face-to-face classroom management strategies, working with your faculty advisor, creating a teaching persona, and more.


Register here:

Gradstravaganza Picnic

Saturday, August 26, 12:00-3:00pm on Wilkins Plaza, Fairfax Campus

Rain location: The Hub Ballroom and Meeting Rooms (Third Floor)

Register here:

Registration is required for the picnic.

Saturday’s picnic will feature FREE food, t-shirts, games, crafts, giveaways, campus tours, and plenty of activities to enjoy! You will also have opportunities to connect with academic units, campus resources, and graduate student organizations. Families are welcome!

When you first arrive, please check in at our Check-In Tent, located near Horizon Hall (look for the Graduate Student Life Banner). Please bring your Mason ID to expedite the check-in process. All non-Mason guests should remain accompanied by their Mason graduate student host. Once checked in, attendees will receive a ticket for lunch and a wristband that must be worn throughout the event.

NOTE: All food, giveaways, and this year’s graduate student t-shirts are available on a first-come, first-served basis, as quantities are limited. While the food, activities, and general giveaways are open to all Picnic guests, the t-shirts are for Mason graduate and professional students only.


Gradstravaganza attendees may park without a permit in Lot K for the event (parking map). If you have a parking permit for the Fairfax Campus, you are welcome to park in your designated lot/garage. 

Get Your Mason ID

If you do not have your Mason ID yet, make plans to come to campus early to visit the Card Services Office to have yours made.  The office is open daily from 8:30am -5:00 PM.  You have the option to submit a photo electronically in advance or you may have your picture taken at Card Services.  Visit the Card Services Website for more information.

In Case of Inclement Weather

A decision to move the Gradstravaganza picnic due to forecasted inclement weather will be made on Friday, August 25th.  If that happens, the announcement will be posted on this webpage and on social media (@MasonGradLife on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook); in addition, all participants registered for the picnic on Mason360 will receive an email about the location change.

The rain location is The Hub Ballroom and Meeting Rooms on the third floor. The Hub is Building #55 on the Fairfax Campus map

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